SFI Health
Identifying Learning Difficulties

Identifying Learning Difficulties

A child may struggle with schooling or paying attention, but if this is a problem that is not resolving over time they may be struggling with a learning difficulty.

Lifestyle insight
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How do I know my child has a learning difficulty?

It is perfectly normal for a child to struggle with a difficult subject at school or even have trouble paying attention to a topic they aren’t interested in – this does not mean that they automatically have a learning difficulty. It’s only when they are consistently struggling, maybe even in multiple subject areas, for a long period of time that you may want to dive deeper to investigate the cause. An important point to keep in mind during all this is to remember, that a learning difficulty does not mean that a child isn’t smart, it just means that their brain has a different way of processing information.

Where are learning difficulties discovered?

More often than not, learning difficulties are uncovered at school, by your child’s teacher. This is a critical time and place, and your child’s teacher is your best resource. Since school is a place of learning, when a child isn’t keeping up with their peers the teacher may be the first to notice and begin to monitor the situation.

What are some signs that I shouldn’t ignore?

Children don’t always have the greatest attention on the best of days! But if you see your child consistently struggling with the following for longer than a short period of time, it’s important to identify why.
Some signs not to ignore
  • Lack of enthusiasm for reading or writing.
  • Trouble with memorisation.
  • Working at a slow pace.
  • Trouble staying on task/following direction.
  • Not being able follow abstract thinking.
  • Either lack of or heightened attention to detail.
  • Poor social skills.
Recognising the signs and getting your child the support they need
Recognising the signs early is key to getting children the support they need. Professionals that specialise in learning difficulties will be very helpful in guiding you through the best strategies in supporting your child’s learning difficulties; however, there are things that you can do to help.
  • Step 1: Be proactive. You’ve already identified some signs, but learn more about learning difficulties. If you think your child is displaying some signs trust your gut and get them tested by a professional who can diagnose.
  • Step 2: Continue to be supportive. Remember that it’s not just you who is worried. Your child is probably aware that they aren’t performing the way they “should”. They will need your support to get them to accept the help and understand that there isn’t anything wrong with them, it’s just a different way of processing information.
  • Step 3: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, together. Your whole body is connected, so maintaining a healthy sleep and exercise schedule is vital for your body to function at its peak.
  • Step 4: Fill your diets with only the good stuff. Like fish! Fish is a great source of protein and provides nutrients such as omega-3s that your body can’t produce. Omega-3s are proven to support cognitive development, so should be an essential part of your child’s diet. If you don’t think your child is getting enough fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Learn more about Omega-3s and nutrition for learning difficulties. 
  • Step 5: Pay attention to any changes. The best way to monitor your child’s learning difficulty is by observing. Note any changes that may concern you (or improvements!) and be sure to discuss these with your child’s specialist.
Be patient, we know it’s hard for you too. But remember, the more proactive you are, the better you will feel and the sooner your child will get the support they need.

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